The memory of smoke

The memory of smoke

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wintergreen candies

My mother tells me the story of when she and my father were courting. Not just once, but repeatedly. She'd made him wintergreen candies, and they walked along, him gobbling them up, until she told him there was wintergreen in them. At which he shouted at her, "What are you trying to do, poison me!?" and threw all of the rest of them in the ditch.

To me this is the story of regret, that she didn't run away then and there. That she was trapped.

She also tells of their wedding, the day before his sister's birthday (she would have been 27), and they had to have a cake for her at the reception, his idea, his insistence. A bitterness creeps into her voice every time she mentions it. Like the unspoken of, much referred to, wedding of the sister.

Now, 1950 or not, to marry someone knowing this? She was not a child, but 25, had a job. Well, I expect for many of the same reasons I married the ex, I finally had some parental approval, acceptance of my adulthood, to walk away from the marriage would have reduced me to a half-childhood again. Mid 20s is a hard age not to just let life push one along, even in the wrong direction.

She wanted me to hate him when she hated him, and still love my father. Something like that. Not an admirable position, not inspiring my respect, nor affection. Pity, compassion, yeah, I know what it is to feel trapped, to feel like I'm drowning and would have thrown anything, anyone, between me and my tormentor, just for the sake of a little respite. So, yes, she now denies it, and prefers the gloss, the fantasy.

I get it. I just can't like her.

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